Summit County Christmas traditions, old and new
December 21, 2005
When Kerri Marsh and her family moved to a new neighborhood in Summit County, they had no idea that they’d be taking on a new Christmas tradition as well.Marsh, who along with her husband Steve is the owner of High Country Auto Repair in Frisco, has lived in Summit Cove for 15 years. After moving this year to the Whispering Pines Ranch in Dillon, her two sons, 10-year-old Hunter and 6-year-old Luke, had a conversation with the little girl next door. “She told them it’s a tradition that during the 12 days before Christmas, if you’ve been a good kid, when you put out your shoes by the front door the elves will come and put a toy in them,” said Marsh. “But if you have a meltdown or something, they won’t come to your house. “Imagine my surprise,” added Marsh, “when I found a new tradition in my new neighborhood.”And so this year, a brand-new Christmas tradition in the Marsh household was born. The elves have been showing up every morning since mid-December, bringing Pez dispensers and bouncy balls and all kinds of holiday loot to Hunter and Luke.”Luke is the first one up every morning,” said Marsh. “He’s never quite sure if the elves are going to come for him or not – he’s not sure if he’s been good enough.”And while some family traditions come and go, Marsh said that this one is probably here to stay.”The kids think this one is very cool,” she said. “After all, what kid doesn’t want more toys?”Whether old or new, traditions are a part of the whole Christmas gestalt. Christmas traditions make their annual holiday visitation to us in the form of family activities, beloved songs and stories, favorite foods and decorations that evoke memories. For most of us, it’s the traditions that help create the overpowering memories which are part of the sentiment of the season.Another tradition for the Marshes involves a favorite food – fudge.”Steve’s mother somehow absconded with the recipe for See’s Fudge, which is famous, so she sends us some every year,” said Marsh. “We always have lots and lots of fudge.”Food memories are perhaps more prevalent during the holiday season than at any other time. Many of these food memories are linked to traditional candies, cookies, and pastries whipped up by generations of parents and grandparents. For Linda Kay Peterson, her favorite Christmas tradition has always been the baking of a certain delicacy for her family and friends.”On Christmas morning, I make a traditional Czechoslovakian breakfast roll called kolachen,” said Peterson. “It’s a yeast roll that’s filled with apricots, cherries, apples or prunes and baked with powdered sugar on top. I can remember having them every year since I was two or three years old.”Peterson said that the tradition of baking kolachen was started by her grandmother and continued by her mother. “My grandmother was not Czechoslovakian, but she was a gourmet cook from Texas and there was a lot of Czech influence there,” Peterson recalled. “Christmas was the only time of the year when we had them. My mother and I continued the tradition. I always serve them with champagne,” she added.Peterson, who works for the Summit County Historical Society, said that this is only her second Christmas season as a full-time resident of Summit County, but that she and her husband have been spending Christmas here since they bought their house back in 1993. And before they eat their kolachen, they have one more Summit County tradition which they enjoy every year.”We always hit the ski slopes for a couple of hours on Christmas morning,” she said. “There aren’t many people up there then. It’s kind of a best-kept secret. If nothing else, it reminds us what an unbelievably beautiful area we’re privileged to live in.”Marie Zdechlik probably appreciates living in Summit County as much as anyone – she’s lived here since 1958. The 80-year-old Frisco resident remembers an old Christmas Eve tradition which she carries on to this day: Looking for Santa Claus.”We would all get on our hats, coats, and mittens and head down the road looking for Santa Claus on the way to our friend Jackie Evenger’s,” said Zdechlik. “When we got there, we’d have hot chocolate and cookies and Christmas carols by the fire.
“The anticipation ran high, because the kids all knew that Santa stopped in Frisco first on his long journey,” Zdechlik added.When they got home, sure enough, Santa’s sleigh tracks were always on the roof. And the milk, cookies and carrots lefts inside for him were all gone. Zdechlik also remembers an old Frisco tradition of carolers who would go up and down the streets visiting the homes of shut-ins on Christmas Eve.Frisco Chamber of Commerce director Kathleen Kennedy celebrates her own tradition every year when she and her family decorate their Christmas tree.”My husband has a butterfly ornament which he’s had for thirty years, so that always goes on the tree first,” said Kennedy. “And I have an old blue glass Christmas ball that I put on next. My grandmother scratched my name and the date on it when I was born.”Rita Bartram, director of the Frisco Historical Society, carries on a Christmas candy-making tradition every year.”We always have a candy we call Buckeye,” said Bartram, who originally hails from the Buckeye State of Ohio. “It’s a ball of peanut butter candy dipped in chocolate, and you let the peanut butter show at the top so it looks like a buckeye.”Bartram, like many Summit County residents, has relatives living all over the United States. Because of this, she gets to celebrate Christmas twice.”We’re scattered all over, so we have Christmas whenever everybody gets together,” she said. “This year, we’re having it on Jan. 6. We’ve had it as early as November and as late as February. But for the real Christmas Day, I always go to Boulder to my sister’s house.”Frisco Wine Merchant owner Susanne Johnston is also used to celebrating several Christmases a year. “I was raised in a divorced household, so we would have a couple of Christmases a year, one in Denver with my mother and stepfather, and then one in Summit County with my father and his wife. Then after that, we’d go have Christmas with our grandparents too,” she added.For Johnston, Christmas Day is a day for the outdoors – which for her usually means skiing every year. “Tradition starts when you have a family, and I don’t have a family,” she said. “It’s a selfish day for me – I can do whatever I want.”This year, Johnston is starting what may become her very own brand new Christmas tradition.”On Christmas morning, I’m going dogsledding,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do it. I want to learn how to mush.”And while Johnston begins a new tradition, Marie Zdechlik will continue an old one. On Christmas Eve, she will carry on her family tradition and take her grandchildren out to look for Santa.”Because of this, we always know there is a Santa Claus,” Zdechlik saidSaturday, Dec. 24
Breckenridge- Strolling carolers on Main Street Breckenridge: 2-4 p.m. along Main Street and in the Blue River Plaza- Backstage Theatre’s “A Backstage Christmas Carol” introduces us to a rag-tag theatrical troupe trying to produce the Dickens classic despite raging egos, a no-show Tiny Tim and a collapsing set. This is a unique comic twist on the timeless Dickens classic, created especially by the Backstage Theatre Company. Breckenridge Theatre, 121 South Ridge St. (970) 453-0199 Keystone- 8-10:30 a.m. Breakfast with Santa: Santa is coming to town and having breakfast with local and visiting kids at the BigHorn restaurant in the Keystone Lodge. Price is $16.95 for adults, $10.95 for kids 6 to 12 and free for kids under 5. Call (800) 468-5004, (970) 496-4FUN or visit http://www.keystoneresort.com- Noon to 2 p.m.: Pictures with Santa in River Run- 3 p.m.: Children’s Holiday Story Readings around the fireplace, third floor of Keystone Lodge- 4-6 p.m.: Summit Choral Society Carolers in Lakeside Village- 4-6 p.m.: Frosty the Snowman in Lakeside Village- 4-6 p.m.: Catholic service in Columbine Ballroom at the Keystone Conference Center- 6:30 p.m.: Nondenominational service in the Keystone Lodge (Divide Room)Frisco- “A Rocky Mountain Christmas
Celebration” depicting in music and drama the unfolding events surrounding the birth of Jesus some 2,000 years ago at Rocky Mountain Bible Church located at 6th and Main in Frisco. 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Call (970) 668-3395 for more information.Copper Mountain- Santa with his reindeer: 1-4 p.m. near West Lake- Torchlight Parade at 7:15 p.m.- Pictures with Santa: Noon to 1 p.m. at the Holiday Tree in Burning Stones Plaza and from 3:30-4 p.m. at Giggleworks- Holiday carolers: 3:30-5:30 p.m. throughout the VillageSunday, Dec. 25Keystone- 1-3 p.m.: Skating Santa & Mrs. Claus on Keystone Lake- 2-8 p.m.: Christmas Day Buffet at Keystone Lodge – adult prices are $39.95, kids (age 6-12) are $18.95 and children 5 and under are free. Call (800) 468-5004 or (970) 496-4FUN.- 4-6 p.m.: Summit Choral Society Carolers at Lakeside VillageCopper Mountain- Santa with his reindeer: 10 a.m. to noon near West Lake